Bland wins Senior PGA in major debut

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Richard Bland had time off from LIV Golf and made it pay off in a major way Sunday when he won the Senior PGA Championship in his senior major debut, closing with an 8-under 63 for a three-shot victory at Harbor Shores.

In a final round delayed by about an hour because of storms, Bland hit what amounted to the winning shot on the par-5 15th, an approach to 6 feet for eagle. That took him from one shot behind Greg Chalmers to a one-shot lead when Chalmers could only manage a par.

The storms finally arrived, and the 51-year-old Bland returned to make three pars and claim his first victory since the 2021 British Masters, the European tour title that unwittingly started Bland on this amazing ride.

Bland did not realize until last year the Senior PGA Championship offers a one-time exemption to players who have won on the European tour in the last five years. He couldn’t play because the Senior PGA was held the same week as LIV Golf Bedminster in New Jersey.

But he asked about this year, and the PGA of America provided the invitation.

Bland won by three shots over Richard Green, who shot 65 and took second place alone without ever having a serious of chance of winning.

That opportunity belonged to Chalmers, the left-handed Australian who had the lead with four holes to play. But he could only make that par on the 15th. He missed the green to the left on the 16th and took two shots to reach the green in making bogey, and then dropped another shot on the par-3 17th when he couldn’t save par from the bunker. Chalmers also bogeyed the 18th and shot 68.

Jason Caron had the best finish by a club professional, posting a 66 to tie for fourth with Scott Hend (66). The disappointment belonged to Ernie Els, still without a senior major. He was tied for the 54-hole lead with Chalmers and shot 70 to tie for sixth. This stage belonged to Bland, who got choked up during the trophy presentation thinking about his brother, Heath, who was diagnosed with stomach cancer just over a year ago and learned last week he had cancer in the lungs.

“I just wanted to win for him so bad,” Bland said.


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